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Events November 2020

LocalVirtual Lecture

The Temple of Atomic Catastrophes with Thomas Daniell

November 30, 2020

Kyoto-born architect Sei’ichi Shirai (1905–83) is perhaps best known for his Temple of Atomic Catastrophes, first published in 1955. In part a tacit counterproposal to Kenzo Tange’s Hiroshima Peace Museum, completed the same year, Shirai’s design was also an unsolicited response to a call by artists Iri and Toshi Maruki for a venue to display a series of huge paintings they titled The Hiroshima Panels. The Temple of Atomic Catastrophes was never built, but it contributed to Shirai almost becoming the first Japanese Pritzker Prize laureate. Selected by the jury to be awarded the 1984 prize, Shirai unfortunately died before the official announcement, and a few years later Kenzo Tange became the first Japanese Pritzker. If Shirai had lived a little longer, international perceptions of modern Japanese architecture may have been profoundly different. The talk, hosted by Collins/Kaufmann Forum for Modern Architectural History, will examine Shirai’s background, the sources of his design philosophy and motifs, and his ongoing influence on contemporary Japanese architecture.

Thomas Daniell is Professor of Architectural Theory and Criticism at Kyoto University, Japan. He holds a B.Arch from Victoria University of Wellington, M.Eng from Kyoto University, and Ph.D from RMIT University. From 2011 until 2017, he was Head of the Department of Architecture at the University of Saint Joseph, Macau. In 2017 he was the M+/Design Trust Research Fellow, and in 2019 he was a Research Fellow at the Canadian Center for Architecture. A two-time recipient of publication grants from the Graham Foundation, his books include FOBA: Buildings (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005), After the Crash: Architecture in Post-Bubble Japan (Princeton Architectural Press, 2008), Houses and Gardens of Kyoto (Tuttle, 2010; second edition 2018), Kiyoshi Sey Takeyama + Amorphe (Equal Books, 2011), Kansai 6 (Equal Books, 2011), An Anatomy of Influence (AA Publications, 2018), and The Cosmos of Sei’ichi Shirai (The MIT Press, forthcoming).

Monday November 30, 6:30 pm

Photo courtesy of The Collins/Kaufmann Forum for Modern Architectural History.


Week of November 29th